Panasonic is a dominating presence in the Blu-ray player market. It's believed in the format from the start and has done a great deal to improve its machines with each new generation. The models in its latest range are smaller than their predecessors, use less electricity and can play any Blu-ray disc you throw at them.
When it does go on sale, the DMP-BD65 will cost around £270. That makes it a fairly expensive mid-range Blu-ray player. As such, it has the basics covered and isn't without a few little extra treats too. Let's take a look, and find out if it's worth the money.
When they launched a few years ago, Blu-ray players were huge. They were generally twice the height of a DVD player and deeper too. Happily, Panasonic has started to reduce its players' dimensions, and they're now about the same size as a DVD player. That's good news, because smaller machines mean lower shipping costs and lower CO2 emissions from moving them around the world.
Panasonic keeps its remote controls fairly small too, but not at the expense of usability. The buttons on the remote that comes with the DMP-BD65 are large enough for anyone to prod without accidentally mashing the adjacent keys. The navigation pad is also easy to use, and perfect for finding your way around the player's menus, and those in a Blu-ray movie.
Socket to them
Because the DMP-BD65 sits in the middle of Panasonic's range, it doesn't have analogue 7.1 audio outputs. But that's just about the only omission on this player. Profile 2.0 functionality is present and correct, and there's an Ethernet socket on the rear of the machine to enable it.
As you'd expect, HDMI is also available to get those glorious 1080p images from the disc to your TV. If you want lossless audio, you'll need to use an external AV receiver to accept and decode the DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD signals.
For people who need composite outputs, you're in luck, as the DMP-BD65 sports a set. We can't for the life of us understand why anyone would buy a Blu-ray player and then use it with standard-definition connections, but we assume people must do, or they wouldn't be included.
Also provided are USB and SD card slots. These are mainly for playing back photos, music and certain types of video. Video files in the AVCHD format, which Panasonic cameras and camcorders record in, can be played back from either of these sockets. The DMP-BD65 offers DivX support, but don't expect high-definition quality, because this functionality is SD-capable only. That's a shame, but not a massive surprise.
It's also worth noting that, if wired Internet access isn't available to you, then you can purchase an optional Wi-Fi dongle to access the Viera Cast services (see below), and Blu-ray online content. That's a handy solution, but we'd prefer to see built-in Wi-Fi at this price.
The DMP-BD65's image quality is superb. Our favourite test discs, District 9 and Shaun of the Dead, both looked as perfect as we had hoped. We couldn't see any problems with the colours, and the player wasn't artificially sharpening the picture.